Have you ever tried <strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdsourcing" target="_blank">crowdsourcing</a></strong>? Well, you should. But before you do you should probably know what it is first. Crowdsourcing is defined as the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a "crowd"), through an open call. What that means for a small business owner is that you can engage a global talent pool of human capital and information in order to produce innovative products and solutions. This type of open innovation turns ideas into marketable products and can solve tough problems at relatively low costs. Can crowdsourcing be a force that fuels the way we make decisions in a hyper connected world? Quite possibly. In fact, there are several online platforms and innovative tools that are enabling businesses to listen to customer feedback, identity talent, and fund business ideas. Here are seven key ones being used in the 2.0 world. <em>—Hajj Flemings</em>
<strong><a href="http://www.kickstarter.com/" target="_blank">Kickstarter</a></strong> is the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. A person can raise money for a project—from film to art to publishing—through grass roots donations.
<strong><a href="http://www.crowdspring.com/" target="_blank">Crowdspring</a></strong> is a graphic design platform that allows you to outsource graphic design projects, including logos and website design, in over 43 categories to hundreds of freelance designers.
<strong><a href="https://www.odesk.com/?_redirected" target="_blank">oDesk</a></strong> is a remote staffing service that allows you to employ a flexible work team. You can select professionals based upon their portfolio and work history.
<strong><a href="http://mystarbucksidea.force.com/" target="_blank">My Starbucks Idea</a></strong> is Starbucks’ way of crowdsourcing ideas with their partners and customers using social media. Since the coffee company has launched My Starbucks Idea 150 ideas have been birthed. For example, the Starbucks <strong><a href="http://blogs.starbucks.com/blogs/customer/archive/2011/06/15/starbucks-mobile-payment-for-android-is-finally-here.aspx" target="_blank">mobile payment for Android</a></strong> was identified by a customer and implemented.
<strong><a href="http://www.google.com/moderator/" target="_blank">Google Moderator</a></strong> is an online tool from Google that allows you to compile a list of questions from your community/audience. It’s a great tool to use at conferences or large group settings to get people’s ideas organized into a list whether they’re onsite or online.
<strong><a href="https://www.facebook.com/questions/" target="_blank">Facebook Questions</a></strong> allows you to ask questions to your friends by clicking the ‘Facebook Questions’ link on your Facebook homepage.
<strong><a href="http://www.linkedin.com/answers/" target="_blank">Linkedin Answers</a></strong> is a good resource to get questions answered from a more “business minded community” and another tool to get feedback from a larger community. <strong><em>Crowdsourcing connects emerging talent, traditional businesses, innovative thinkers and online tools instantly. Let us know how you are using crowdsourcing to modernize your industry and build your business. </em></strong>